For the 90th year here in the Ojai Valley, once the home of the Chumash Indians who lived beneath the 7,000-foot peak Topa Topa, not far from what is now the Los Padres National Forest, a tennis tournament is being played.
As usual in tennis, a good serve is important. Here, in the morning, they serve orange juice and in the afternoon, they serve tea, all for no charge. Not even for being genteel.
Surely, the Ojai Valley college tournament is a kinder, gentler kind of tennis tournament, with the possible exception of the play itself, in which, perhaps not so surprisingly, players want to clobber one another.
Take Pat Crow of Long Beach.
Crow defeated Roberto Di Givlio of San Jose State Friday, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, to stay on course for a possible Big West showdown with Mark Kaplan of UC Irvine. But he was thinking instead about the people he beat from the Pacific 10.
"I haven't had any trouble with any of them I've played," he said. "Our Big West teams are just as strong as they are."
That brought a rebuttal from Eric Amend of USC. Amend, who defeated top-seeded Stanford's Jeff Tarango in the tournament's biggest upset, reached the semifinals with a three-set victory Friday over Billy Barber of UCLA.
"They've got players in that conference, but only players, because the Pac-10 has history and tradition," he said. "They are as representative in players, but not with teams. We are deeper. It's as simple as that."
Playing on the oak-shaded courts is something of a tradition for Amend, who has done it since he was 14.
"If I could die and go to heaven, this is it," he said. "This is tennis heaven."
Patrick Galbraith of UCLA defeated Byron Black of USC, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-5), and will play Amend in one of today's Pac-10 semifinal matches. Martin Blackman of Stanford, who defeated Jason Netter of UCLA, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3, will play Buff Farrow of UCLA in the other semifinal. Farrow defeated Jeff Cathrall of Stanford, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3.